They’ve only been around for four years, but when you add up the state titles they’ve won, it seems like a lot more.
Chandler Valley Christian’s Shamesha Smith and Scottsdale Christian’s Jillian Klassen, both seniors, have dominated the 2A state meets for the past three years.
Combined, they have won 13 individual state titles and run on five championship relay teams. Both will likely add to those totals beginning today, as the 2A state meet opens at Mesa Community College.
“It went very fast,” Valley Christian coach Dan Kuiper said of the four years with Smith. “You never think you are going to replace them.”
Klassen is the defending 2A champion in the 1,600 and 3,200 and has won six individual titles, the most in SCA history.
She also won three straight 2A cross country titles. She’ll try to push her career total to seven today when she runs in the finals of the 3,200. The finals of the 800 and 1,600 are Saturday.
“Any time you get a person that comes through that has a lot of success, you always say you wish you could have them another four years,” SCA coach Duane Ediger said of Klassen, who will go on to Samford University next fall.
“A unique thing about Jillian is that with all of her success at a young age, not only has she developed her track skills, but she also developed her leadership skills.”
Smith has also been a leader for the Trojans, who will go after their 12th straight team title. Smith has won seven titles and if she can add three more, she’ll wind up one shy of the school record of 11 set by Misty Hawkinson.
Smith, the defending state champ in the long jump and triple jump, came into Valley Christian with a stellar record on the youth track circuit.
She lived up to the high expectations by winning two titles as a freshman and has not let up.
“You never want to believe they are going to be as good as their reputation, but she definitely was better than expected,” Kuiper said.
“She’s just a gifted athlete. She came in and had a gift for jumping. She’s been blessed.”
1A/3A State Track meet
When: Today and Saturday, 5 p.m. both days
Where: Mesa High School, 1630 E. Southern Ave.
Defending champions: 1A boys — Canyon State; 1A girls — Tempe Prep. 3A boys — Payson; 3A girls — Blue Ridge
3A team favorites: The Payson boys and Blue Ridge girls appear poised to repeat. Both won their respective team titles in the East Region. Safford swept the team titles at the South Region meet and should also contend. Other region champions were Monument Valley girls and Winslow boys (North) and the Estrella Foothills boys and the Red Rock girls (West).
Top local 3A individuals: Seton — (boys) Joe Koestner, 100, 200; Andrew Belus, 3,200; (girls) Colleen Tighe, shot put; Amanda Hietzman, 100, 200. Fountain Hills — (boys) Phillip Anderelli, 800; (girls) Hannah Sadler, HJ, LJ, TJ; Alexandra Stricklin, discus. Coolidge — (boys) George Jones, 110 HH, 300IH; Jammal McKinney, LJ, TJ.
1A team favorites: The Tempe Prep girls are after their third straight title, and judging from how they performed at regionals, they’re a runaway favorite to get it. The Knights racked up 277 points, winning the South/East meet by 205 points. The only thing more impressive at that meet was the Canyon State boys, who amassed 328 points, that’s an average of 19 points per event. The defending champion Rams will likely go unchallenged for the team title this year.
Top local 1A individuals: Canyon State — Jai Brewster, 100, 200, Gersham Sharp, 400; Darryl Mills, 1,600; Duane Tracy, 3,200; Zach Fleming, 300 IH; Raheem Jackson, LJ; Eric Cole, shot put; Aaron Briones, discus. Tempe Prep — (boys) Aaron Benson, discus; Michael Begley, LJ; (girls) Liberty Brittain, TJ, discus; Robyn Robledo, LJ; Shea Wilkinson, 1,600, 3,200; Ashleigh Gaylor, 400, 800; Briana Prince, 100.
2A State track meet
When: Today (4 p.m.) and Saturday (3:15 p.m.)
Where: Mesa Community College, 1833 W. Southern Ave., Mesa
Defending champions: Valley Christian girls, Thatcher boys
Team favorites: If the Valley Christian girls can do what’s expected, they’ll win their 12th straight state title and move within one of the all-time streak of 13 straight track titles set by the Safford girls from 1986-98. The Trojans have a strong senior class, led by Shamesha Smith (LJ, TJ, 200) and Kim Wigboldy (100 and 300 IH), and they have multiple athletes in every event. Yuma Catholic and Benson should vie for second place. The boys team title will once again come down to Valley Christian and Thatcher. The Eagles dominated the East Region and have jumper/hurdler Dakota John back. However, Valley Christian will counter with outstanding distance runners Corey Botma and Cameron Liston.
Other top local athletes: Valley Christian — (boys) John Kredit, shot put; P.J. Fraley, HJ; Sam Andresen, 300 IH; Tyler Cullum, 800; Brandon Harding, 400; (girls) Katlyn Carroll, pole vault. Scottsdale Christian — (boys) Marcus Shisler, 1,600, 3,200; (girls) Jillian Klassen, 800, 1,600, 3,200; Jenna Ciammitti, 100; Horizon Honors — (girls) Terah Fullman, 400. Maricopa — (boys) Roman Wilson, 110 HH; (girls) Brittany Parks, 100, 200.